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Morning all. If you’ve still got the heart for more rugby after Ireland’s underwhelming showing against the USA, we’re popping over to Wellington for South Africa v Wales.

Feel free to send us in your thoughts and comments on the action. They can go to, @thescore_ie on Twitter,’s Facebook page, or the comments form below.

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FT: South Africa 17-16 Wales

What better way to put the last couple of hours out of your head than by watching more rugby?

The reigning champions — and my value tip for this year’s contest — South Africa launch the defence of their crown against Warren Gatland’s Wales.

We’ll be kicking off in just under ten minutes, so hold tight for the team news.

South Africa: Frans Steyn; Pietersen, Fourie, de Villiers, Habana; Morne Steyn, du Preez; Mtawarira, Smit, du Plessis; Rossouw, Matfield; Brussow, Burger, Spies.

Wales: Hook; North, Davies, Roberts, Williams; Priestland, Phillips; James, Bennett, Adam Jones; Charteris, Alun-Wyn Jones; Lydiate, Warburton, Faletau.

No Matthew Rees, Gethin Jenkins or Ryan Jones for Wales — how will that affect their chances today?

The bookies have gone for a 12-point spread in South Africa’s favour. If they’re on form, I can certainly see them winning by a bigger margin than that. I’m really not sure about Wales’ credentials at all.

The anthems are done and dusted. Let’s get this show on the road.

English referee Wayne Barnes gets us underway in Wellington. Let’s hope that this one is the cracker we’re expecting.

TRY! (Frans Steyn, 3′) A very promising start by the Boks. Frans Steyn is released on the wing and he fends off Shane Williams and James Hook to touch down in the corner.

Referee Wayne Barnes is unsighted, so goes upstairs to the TMO to get a second opinion on the grounding, but there’s absolutely no reason not to award the try.

Morne Steyn splits the posts with an excellent conversion from the sideline. South Africa 7-0 Wales

PENALTY! (Hook, 9′) That’s a bit better from Wales who have started to find their feet after that early blitz by South Africa.

Pierre Spies is penalised for going in off his feet at the ruck and James Hook manages to tuck the resulting penalty just inside the right upright. South Africa 7-3 Wales

Lots of predictions coming in on our Facebook page. The majority of you have gone for South Africa by 10-20 points, with Dominic Rooney predicting that the Boks will win “by a cricket score.”

A few minutes ago, I might have agreed, but Wales have really gotten into the game. They’ve the put-in to a scrum inside the SA 22 now.

MISSED PENALTY! (Hook, 15′) Wales briefly threaten the SA line, but the defence holds up and Wayne Barnes brings play back for a high tackle by JP Pietersen on Mike Phillips.

It’s not quite underneath the posts, but the penalty should be bread-and-butter for Hook. It starts out right though and never really drifts back in, despite the full-back’s protestations to the touch judges. A missed opportunity.

PENALTY! (M Steyn, 18′) Dan Lydiate concedes a penalty for a pretty careless offside. He knows that he’s playing against Morne Steyn, right?

The kick is about 40 metres from goal, but it’s never going anywhere else but right between the sticks. South Africa 10-3 Wales

A little bit of a lull period there as the Welsh defence holds firm in the face of some South African pressure. Eventually they turn over the ball and Rhys Priestland kicks deep into SA territory. Frans Steyn has a bit of a dodgy moment as he tries to shepherd the ball away from the touchline, and is lucky not to knock the ball on a yard or two from his own line.

Wales have a penalty advantage as they grind out the yards inside the South African 22. A chance here for Hook to narrow the gap to just four points…

PENALTY! (Hook, 32′) The Welsh full-back makes no mistake with the kick. Wales fully deserve to be within touching distance at this stage, they’ve battled hard since falling behind to that early Frans Steyn try. South Africa 10-6 Wales

Just before that little flurry of action, South African centre Jean de Villiers went off injured to be replaced by Butch James. I’m not sure if it’s his knee or his ribs that are the problem, but his game is over anyway.

Wales frustrating the South Africa attack here. The ball is worked back to Morne Steyn who decides to have a drop at goal from 40+ yards. He doesn’t catch it properly though and the ball spirals awkwardly off the outside of his boot before dropping into the in-goal area for Hook to touch down.

The clock ticks into the 42nd minute, so James Priestland essentially has a shot to nothing with a drop goal of his own. He’s snatches at it under pressure though and it drifts harmlessly wide to end the half.

HALF-TIME: South Africa 10-6 Wales

After a very promising start, this one has certainly turned into an attritional battle with both sides holding tight in defence, pounding each other upfront and kicking a lot of ball from hand for territory. The rugby’s not really flowing though, is it?

I’ll be back in a few minutes. Do send in your thoughts and comments on the opening 40 minutes.

Alright, the sides are back out and we’re back underway. Let’s see if either side can open things up in this second period.

Here come Wales. Wonderful running by Shane Williams who stepped outside JP Pietersen and drove to within seven yards of the line before his opposite number held him up. There’s definitely an opportunity to get some points on the board, but a handling error by Toby Faletau hands the initiative and the ball to SA and Frans Steyn clears their lines.

There’s another injury worry for Peter de Villiers; Johann Muller comes on to replace veteran lock Victor Matfield.

A huge opportunity for Wales here. Shane Williams plays a beautiful little grubber which stops in play as Steyn tries to shepherd it out over the line. Priestland is first on the scene for Wales and nudges the full-back into the ball, forcing him to knock out of play. That’ll be a Welsh lineout, yards from the SA line.

PENALTY! (Hook, 50′) South Africa stray offside as Wales press and play is brought back for a penalty underneath the posts. Hook could kick these with his eyes closed. He knocks it over and, all of a sudden, we have a one-point ball game. South Africa 10-9 Wales

Sam Warburton is having a tremendous game in the Welsh back row. First on the scene, he stays on his feet and battles gamely until Wayne Barnes has no option but to penalise South Africa for holding on the ground. Great stuff and Wales snuff out the danger.

TRY! (Faletau, 53′) Thoroughly deserved try for Wales, who really have been the better side for most of this game. Toby Faletau spots a chink in the South African defence, gets his body low and squirms under the tackle and over the line. Wayne Barnes looks to the TMO for confirmation but there’s no doubt that it’s a try for the number eight.

Hook tacks on the conversion. South Africa have their work cut out for them now. South Africa 10-16 Wales

Incredible scenes here as Wales threaten to put the game to bed. Toby Faletau steps into the line and swats away Morne Steyn like a fly before charging towards the line. He manages to offload to Jamie Roberts who just needs to take the ball to ground and let it be recycled out wide. He loses it in the tackle though and it’s knocked forward. So close.

A change at hooker for SA. Bismarck du Plessis is on to replace John Smit.

Much better from South Africa here. They’re finding the areas of weakness in the Welsh line and picking up a clear yard or two with every phase. A penalty gives them an opportunity to kick to the corner. Five yards out and looking dangerous…

TRY! (Hougaard, 65′) The rugby might not always be the prettiest, but this is turning into a right ding-dong battle. Francois Hougaard — who’s only on the pitch about five minutes after replacing Bryan Habana — picks the perfect line. Du Preez pops it perfectly into his path and the replacement winger strolls over unopposed underneath the posts.

Steyn does as you would expect him to do. South Africa lead by one. South Africa 17-16 Wales

Wonderful foraging by the Welsh back at the breakdown, winning turnover ball with some excellent counter-rucking.

Oooh — good idea, poor execution. The ball is fired back to Priestland in the pocket and he decides to have a drop at goal to retake the lead. He miscues horribly though and the ball goes about three or four yards wide.

The Welsh out-half immediately makes amends with a cracking positional kick which takes play to within six or seven yards of the South African line. Under pressure, the Boks just about manage to take the lineout quickly, but then they are penalised for not releasing the ball on the ground.

This is a huge chance for Hook…

MISSED PENALTY! (Hook, 73′) By no means an easy kick, particularly with the Wellington wind, but Hook’s kick is never really on target. Seven minutes to play — will Wales have another chance?

Unsurprisingly, Sam Warburton is named as Man of the Match. He has been immense today, as have Lydiate and Faletau — actually, as have most of the Welsh team.

Three minutes on the clock.

South Africa have possession inside the Welsh half. If they can control the ball and work it through the phases, the game is over. 90 seconds on the clock.

But they’ll have one last chance. South Africa lose the ball forward, giving Wales a scrum on their own 22.

The 80 minutes are up.

And that’s that. South Africa somehow manage to scramble the ball back and Fourie du Preez hoofs it into touch. A cruel, cruel blow after a valiant Welsh effort.

Full Time: South Africa 17-16 Wales

Warren Gatland: “I’m proud of the effort of the players, but then I thought that we did everything but win the game. That’s about taking opportunities.

I thought we played some great rugby and put ourselves in with a chance to win, but in the end, we weren’t quite good enough.

“We’ve prepared really well, and the players will be devestated.

“We had a couple of chances to win it — a drop at goal and the kick — but that’s the drama of sport.

That’s our lot. Wales will be disappointed that an excellent performance didn’t lead to victory, but they can take some minor consolation in a bonus point which could prove crucial in this Group of Death. If they play like that against Samoa next week though, they shouldn’t have too many problems.

For South Africa, a win is a win, and they’ll be happy to take the points away from a game they could very easily have lost.

We’ll have plenty more news and reaction throughout the day, so stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by.

Gavin Cooney
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